Back to 1989 (First Impression)

Once upon a time, twdramas were the love of my life.



  • Marcus Chang as Chen Che
  • Ivy Shao as Ye Zhen Zhen
  • Mini Tsai as Chen Ya Juan


  • Taiwanese
  • 22 episodes
  • Original run: January 22 – June 3, 2016

Quick Rundown:

After arguing with his mother about the secret identity of the father he’s never known, Chen Che gets into a motorcycle accident and wakes up in 1989. There, he befriends Ye Zhen Zhen, who turns out to be his mother’s best friend. He later meets the 22 year-old version of his own mother and all the potential men who could be his father. Without knowing the exact purpose for his time-travel, Chen Che must decide whether to intervene with the past and possibly even change his future existence in 2016.


Anna’s Take

Taiwanese dramas were my gateway to the wonderful world of dramas, especially idol ones. Although I grew up watching TVB or HK dramas, it wasn’t until I watched Meteor Garden that I became the obsessive drama addict that you know now. Those Taiwanese idol dramas were my jam back in the day. But with the emergence of Korean and Chinese ones, I ended up casting them aside. To be honest, I became a bit of a drama snob and turned my nose up at the less pretty and shiny production value and acting of twdramas. I haven’t really liked a current twdrama in years (damn you, Mr. Right Wanted), so I’m kind of astonished that I voluntarily watched one and enjoyed it! Back to 1989 is my reunion with Taiwanese dramas, and it’s giving me both a real bout of drama nostalgia and newfound appreciation for what they’ve become now.

Right off the bat, Back to 1989 reminds me a lot of one of my favorite HK dramas, A Chip Off the Old Block. Both deal with a son who time-travels to a different era and meets one parent, all the while trying to discover the mystery identity of the other. Two episodes into Back to 1989, and I’m having some major drama deja vu. But hey, since I love the HK one, I don’t think I’d be too disappointed if this turns out to be nearly identical to it. Even though this drama doesn’t have the slapstick comedic styling of A Chip Off the Old Block or even other stereotypical Taiwanese comedies, I wouldn’t necessarily call it serious. There are funny and over-the-top moments, of course, but also a thoughtful and reflective tone to the whole thing. In my experience, this makes for an excellent combo in twdramas.


The ridiculous overacting in twdramas is often my biggest pet peeve, but it’s actually neither that bad nor noticeable in Back to 1989. Sure enough, there are side characters who will always have their own silly storylines, but they haven’t been too distracting yet. Hopefully it stays that way. I’m not familiar with any of the lead actors, so I have no real feelings about their acting or past work. Marcus Chang is good looking and seems to be carrying the character well enough. I must say though, the fan service in this drama is SO obvious. Two episodes and two different scenes in which the camera zooms in and lingers on his abs. Way to be subtle, guys. But his abs are great, so the fan service worked on this fan, ha! Ivy Shao and Mini Tsai, the two lead actresses, are not annoying…which is really all you can ask for in idol dramas. Okay, fine; I don’t think Ye Zhen Zhen (Shao) is quite pretty enough for Marcus or his character, but she’s cute.

The story in this drama seems pretty straightforward with Chen Che finally discovering who his father is and then having to deal with all the complications that has on his relationship with his mom in both 1989 and 2016. The loveline, on the other hand, doesn’t seem like it’d be all that messy. The most complicated thing would be that he’d have to date a lady his mom’s age in present day. Whatever. It’s not like the lovebirds will be separated by 1000 years like how it is in all other time-travel dramas. But we shall see. Since this drama is a rather long one with only one episode airing per week for 6 months(!), hopefully it’ll stay interesting. I’m enjoying the fun and easy-to-watch vibe of Back to 1989, and will definitely be sticking around for more. I’m actually really happy to be reunited with my first love of Taiwanese dramas, and hope that the flame remains ignited this time around.


This & That:

  • Marcus Chang was in the 2015 twdrama, To the Dearest Intruder. He had his acting debut in the popular 2014 film, Cafe. Waiting. Love.
  • Ivy Chen was in the 2015 twdrama, When I See You Again, that starred Jasper Liu as the main lead actor.
  • The ending theme, “Two People/兩個人,” is performed by Alien Huang, one of the hosts of the Taiwanese variety show, 100% Entertainment.
  • If you’re looking for another recent drama set in the late ’80s, try Reply 1988. It has a similar theme, but instead of who the dad is, the mystery is who the husband is. I didn’t watch it, but many people (including Estelle) enjoyed it!
Sir, you are working that leather jacket.

Sir, you are working that leather jacket.


4 thoughts on “Back to 1989 (First Impression)

  1. Lizzie says:

    watching this drama up to ep 12 and totally loving it! Gives me Shan Shan Lai Le vibes and I personally think that Marcus Chang is a better thespian and eye candy than Zhang Han.

    I don’t actually think that ZZ is uber naive ; she does have a temper and her concerns about how the stock market consultants work are actually quite true! What may not be so believable is that CC is her first crush at 22 and never having had a relationship before. I mean, didn’t people date in the 80s? CC also doesn’t think that she is stupid (As he told Director Li during their bowling game) and he doesn’t treat her like an idiot (although of course his character is like a corporate super hero!).

    I like the developing romance between ZZ and CC – the interaction is pretty sweet and the way they look at each other is so awwww… nice anecdote to all the overly sexualised hollywood romances or the too-subtle-you-miss-if-if-u-blink c-drama (Imperial Doctress, looking at you!) Please have a happy ending for them! (even if it is logic-defying)

    Some thoughts:-
    1. Although a fav drama trope, cold man meets warm girl who opens him up, it somehow still feels refreshing here.
    2. I think Ivy Shao is made up to not look as good as she is (the college beauty is actually Ya Juan) – saw her in Beautiful Secret and although her character was so annoying, she is actually very pretty.
    3. Why is it only 1 episode per week – am watching the BTS to get me through the week and rewatching favourite snippets –


  2. Lizzie says:

    somehow, my initial post was deleted? damn. Anyways, just wanted to leave a note to say that i enjoy your recaps.

    i actually dont mind ZZ as although she may have silly antics (apple peels anyone??), she is not that goofy in front of ZZ although she is transparent in that she likes him when she discovers that she does. I thought it was cute that when Director Li said that CC could have won the bowling match if not for his “dai-dai” girlfriend, his response was that “she is not blur” and her response was that “he is not my boyfriend!

    I find the budding romance between ZZ and CC kinda sweet but not cloying (perhaps repressed from the so-subtle-you-miss-if-if-you-blink romance in Imperial Doctress and the doomed one in 15 years waiting for migratory birds!).
    The way she smiles at him and the way he stares-at-her-wondering-what-is- it-that-he-is-feeling feels very natural and real. Of course it helps that CC is hot! I saw Ivy Shao in Beautiful Secret and she is actually very pretty and I think that her styling in this show makes her look more plainer at first sight although prettier upon a longer gaze πŸ™‚

    Can you tell I am a fan? πŸ™‚


    • Don’t worry, your initial comment is here too! =)

      I don’t think I’m a total ZZ-CC shipper (yet), but they definitely share chemistry and cute moments together. You make a good point about how this OTP make the departure from the usual drama romance tropes. I make fun of Zhen Zhen about being too obvious and desperate with her feelings for him, but that’s actually kinda refreshing to see in a drama.


  3. Matooka says:

    I just watched 2 episodes and I really like it
    Marcus is sooooo handsome and hid personality is so amazing πŸ’•
    I’m watching Behind Your Smile too,but I love this more 🌟


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